Wilkinson vs Farrell

The respective goal-kickers of Toulon and Saracens will have decisive roles to play in Saturday's European Cup final, writes JON CARDINELLI.

On Monday, Jonny Wilkinson announced that he will retire at the end of the current season. A lot has subsequently been written about Wilkinson's illustrious career, and no doubt a lot has been said in the Toulon change room.

Wilkinson's team-mates will be keen to give one of rugby's greats a fairytale send-off. The forwards in particular will be going all out to win the collisions and breakdowns in order to provide Wilkinson with an ideal platform.

During his Test career, Wilkinson was one of the finest goal-kickers in the world, as well as a match-winning drop-goal exponent. Who could forget the one he hit off his wrong foot in the 2003 World Cup final? The kick bisected the uprights and propelled England to their first world title.

Wilkinson has maintained an excellent standard since retiring from Test rugby, and Toulon have been the beneficiaries of his game-winning accuracy and decision-making.

The pressure should be immense this Saturday, but you'd expect a player of Wilkinson's class and experience to thrive in such conditions. Whether Owen Farrell can do the same is less certain.

Much will depend of the performance of Farrell's pack. They face a stern challenge in the shape of an all-star Toulon forward unit, and yet they have to win the battle in the trenches if Saracens are to win their first ever European Cup.

Of course, Saracens will need Farrell to take every scoring opportunity on offer. The young flyhalf has won some big matches for England, scoring 17 points in the emphatic victory over the All Blacks at Twickenham in 2012. A repeat of that performance will be needed if he is going to outdo Wilkinson in another massive fixture.

Photos: David Rogers/Getty Images

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Jon Cardinelli